What if it Were Our choice to Make?
Read: Job 23:8-12
This morning I was listening to John Hendrickson who has written a memoir called 'Life on Delay'. It chronicles this gentleman's life-long dealing with stuttering. He spoke of his relationship with his brother. How tough it was growing up and how close they are now.
He related the fact that stuttering is now known to be a neurological problem, not brought on by anxiety and that it can cause a person to feel claustrophobic. He also spoke honestly about the daily challenge to continue being part of conversations, in spite of the inner voice that urges him to not join in. There is a doctor in California, Gerald Maguire, who is working to find a "magic pill" that would stop stuttering altogether. Dr. Maguire stutters, and his brother who also stuttered committed suicide. Dr. Maguire's desire is that no other family will suffer this great sadness.
Knowing that a remedy for stuttering is being sought, John Hendrickson was asked whether or not he would take the cure if it were available. His answer? Maybe not at this point in his life. He said that when he was growing up and even in college, he would have taken a remedy without thought; however, now he has seen good that has come from his struggle. He says that he is a better listener and is curious about the lives of other people. He believes his stuttering is a part of his identity; therefore, if he were given a choice, he might continue to get up each day and deal with its challenges even if he were offered relief from them. What about us? Can we play what if? There are many things that are a part of most everyone's life that are challenging. Even very challenging and painful. What if Jesus gave us the option to be free from the painful circumstances that we face? Of course, we know that there is no challenge, whether great or merely annoying, that the Master couldn't remove from our lives; so, what if we could choose? We know a lady who has never seen light at all. She has told us that if given the choice, she would never want to receive her sight. She said that the shock of such a different way of life would be too great for her.
That makes me wonder. Were there any in Jesus' time here who didn't go to Him for healing because they preferred the known difficulties rather than adjusting to an unknown healing? Of course, I don't know that answer. What I do know is that when Jesus queried people about what they desired when they cried out to Him, they often asked for healing. Jesus’ response? While He was on earth, He healed all those who asked Him for that great blessing. We know that His miracles, done so we could see the Father's compassion, were proofs that He was the promised Messiah, John 14:8-11. The God/Man was among them. He poured out God's healing and compassion to demonstrate Who He was so people would believe in Him. People were often given a choice to ask, and Jesus said yes, but what about now? What if the Savior asked us what we would like Him to do? At first thought, the answer might seem obvious, but is it? My answer is yes and no.
Yes, I don't think that I can think of any situation where a person wouldn't want comfort and help no matter his problem, ailment or dilemma. We know that Jesus understands that because of the frequency we read that He had compassion on the one who was hurting, Matthew 9:35-36; Luke 7:11-17, and His actions sprang out of that heart of love; but what if God's desire is to display His compassion through a different medium than a physical healing? Might we choose that route if it meant sweet moments where God's love was on display in spite of the challenges and difficulties that we face? I don't know the answer or what I would say if God permitted me to choose.
What if remaining blind would bring about my being able to share the Gospel or even the salvation of someone? However, what if Jesus held out perfect vision without that opportunity? What would I choose? What if God said that He would use me as His vehicle of poured out grace or He would heal my eyes and give someone else the opportunity to tell His story. What would I choose? Would the temptation to be free of the encumbrances that I have cause me to choose healing rather than fruitful work for Jesus? Again, I can't say for certain, and perhaps that is why God doesn't often permit us to choose. Because He is sovereign, God can change circumstances, deliver people out of bondage or heal anyone at His discretion. If He doesn't do those things, He is at work weaving lives together to help us in our struggles.
As Job said, we have the assurance that Almighty God knows the path we are on, and He is at work in circumstances, that if given the choice, we surely wouldn't choose, Job 23:10. Job looked for God in what he endured and in spite of his anguish, he clung to the Lord and continued to do His will, Job 23:8-12. Our lives are watched over by our Shepherd, and He is refining us, Malachi 3:3.
I wish I could tell you that if given the choice, I would choose the harder road rather than the easier way. Jesus did. Knowing what He would endure, Matthew 26:39, including the unfathomable pain of being forsaken by His Father, Matthew 27:46, He willingly came to lay down His life, 2 Corinthians 8:9; John 10:18. His love is immeasurable and so much deeper than my own. Nevertheless, He has chosen to use each of us in circumstances we wouldn't have chosen; so instead of our sadness being useless and pointless, we know that it is overseen by the One Who loves us without limits. After all, we didn't even choose Him; rather, He has chosen us that we might bear much fruit, John 15:16. We don't have to be concerned about what we would choose because we have been chosen by the One Who knows us best but loves us more than we can imagine. When He does not give us a choice, it might well be that when we look back we will see glimpses of His beauty that helped us to grow and become more like Him, Romans 8:29. That doesn't mean that we aren't sometimes sad or weary, and the Lord knows that at times we long for things to change. We never need to hide these thoughts or feelings from Him since He knows us completely. So, is it wrong to ask God to heal or change circumstances when He hasn't chosen to do so yet? I'm thankful that, unless He has told us to stop asking, we can still come to Him with our requests. Knowing that He is able to do anything, if it is according to His will, 1 John 5:14-15.
Lord, often we wish we could have our own way, but when we stand back and consider Your wisdom, power and love, we know that Your ways are best, Romans 11:33-36.